SMM Eingang Mitte (c) HMC / Zapf

SMM DIGITAL: The Future Of Shipping Is Smart

Digitalisation is the maritime game changer. This is why the digital transformation will be in focus at SMM DIGITAL, which has been given the leitmotif “Driving The Maritime Transition”. As a purely digital event, SMM DIGITAL will feature conferences with topranking panelists discussing current trends in Smart Shipping. International experts will report about the challenges facing the maritime industry, and highlight attractive solutions.

Complex contractual relationships, the enormous dimensions of ships and routes, and exceptional logistical challenges are all aspects of the modern shipping industry, and digital technologies are opening up many new opportunities to drive automation, agility and profitability. This applies to the entire life-cycle of a vessel, from the planning stages to operation, and through to recycling. To see how maritime companies can position themselves advantageously in this environment, visit SMM DIGITAL online from 2 until 5 February 2021.

Being connected comes with risks

The growing intensity of online traffic makes the shipping community more vulnerable: At the end of September, CMA CGM experienced a hacker attack. The IT systems of the world's fourthlargest containership operator were disabled by ransomware for roughly 2 weeks. The attackers wanted to extort ransom from the company. Examples like this show that adhering to cyber security guidelines, performing regular security checks and raising awareness among crews should be top priorities for ship operators. "We can only seal the external gateways used by cyber criminals if all crew members exercise responsible data discipline," says Dietmar Hilke, cyber security expert at the network specialist Cisco Systems. "Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the leitmotif of this edition of the leading international maritime trade fair was ‘Driving the maritime transition’. The recent developments have accelerated the digitalisation efforts throughout the industry and prompted us to sharpen our focus on the digital transformation. At SMM DIGITAL, participants can get the latest information on new developments in the maritime industry," said Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.

Aye, Aye, AI

From Autonomous Shipping to Big Data, and through to Blockchain, the top-flight conference programme of the Maritime Future Summit (MFS), which will take place on 2 Februar 2021 under the heading "Aye, aye A.I.", highlights the many dimensions of digital change. For example, Dr. Annie Beeker, Senior Lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch, will explain how progressing digitalisation benefits her work. On board the South African scientific icebreaker “SA Agulhas II" the scientist explored how the washing of waves affects the steel structure of the ship. Collecting and analysing data not only helps engineers identify the most stable hull structure, it also makes shipping more sustainable. That is an important step towards the shipping industry’s goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050: "If we can better analyse, share and utilise the ever-growing catalogue of data captured in the industry we create a win-win. We can optimise performance to reduce fuel consumption – still the lion’s share of OPEX for owners – and help reduce emissions in line with IMO ambitions and society’s needs. That is a real opportunity”, said Esben Poulsson, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

Autonomous shipping

There is also great potential in Artificial Intelligence (AI): Being able to utilise voluminous databases and smart algorithms is taking us closer and closer to realising the vision of unmanned ships. During the MFS conference, engine experts from Wärtsilä will explain how "simple" ships can be turned into smart transport platforms. The project "Mayflower Autonomous Ship" (MAS) has made remarkable progress. The autonomous vessel is expected to set sail for its first major unmanned trip next April. MAS is equipped with sophisticated software that processes the data from 30 sensors and six cameras installed on board. The ship will receive commands from the land-based control centre. "What makes this project special is that it is a seagoing vessel which can go a long distance. Most previous unmanned vessels have only been able to go short distances, so this is a big change," said Fredrik Soreide, ProMare project director. ProMare is one of the partners in this project, which is being spearheaded by the IT company IBM.

For further information on SMM DIGITAL please go to

About SMM
SMM, the leading international maritime trade fair, normally takes place at the Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC) exhibition complex every two years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 29th issue of the trade fair will take place as a purely digital event from 2 to 5 February 2021. With the leitmotif “Driving The Maritime Transition”, SMM DIGITAL will bring together the maritime community. Its participants will be able to watch conferences featuring top-flight speakers on an online streaming platform. At SMM DIGITAL, international experts will discuss current challenges facing the maritime industry and explore innovative solutions. The next SMM will take place from 6 to 9 September 2022.


Alexandra Neises
Project Manager
T. +49 40 3569-2163